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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 14

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-29

Deuteronomy 14:1-29

1Ye are the children [sons] of the Lord your God: ye shall not cut [wound] yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for [with regard to] the dead. 2For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people [a people of possession] unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the [face of] earth. 3Thou shalt not eat any abominable 4thing. These are the beasts which ye shall [may] eat: The ox, the sheep, and the goat, 5The hart, and the roe-buck1 [gazelle], and the fallow-deer [dappled buck], and the wild-goat, and the pygarg [buffalo? chamois?], and the wild-ox, and the chamois.2 6And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth [bringing up] the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat. 7Nevertheless, these ye shall not eat, of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney [a species of marmot]; for they chew the cud [are ruminators], but divide not the hoof; therefore 8they are unclean unto you. And [also] the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass [that which is fallen]. 9These ye shall eat, of 10all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: And whatsoever 11hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you. Of all clean 12birds ye shall [may] eat. But these are they of which ye shall not eat: The eagle, and the ossifrage [bone-breaker, sea-eagle], and the ospray, 13And the glede3 [falcon], and the kite, and the vulture4 after his kind. 14And every raven after his kind. 15And the owl5 [daughter of wailing, or desert, or of greediness], and the night-hawk 16[cuckoo], and the cuckoo6 [hawk], and the hawk after his kind. The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan7 [screech-owl], 17And the pelican, and the gier-eagle 18[carrion-kite? heron? swan?], and the cormorant, And the stork, and the heron 19[plover?], after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. And every creeping thing 20that flieth [all turning things] is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowls ye may eat. 21Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth [falleth] of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk. 22Thou shalt truly8 [again] tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always. 24And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, when [if] the Lord thy God hath blessed thee: 25Then shalt thou turn [give it] it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: 26And thou shalt bestow [give] that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth [desireth] after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth [asketh]: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household. 27And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake 28him: for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. At [From] the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase [in-bringing, return] the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: 29And the Levite (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee), and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work [the deeds] of thine hand which thou doest.


1.Deuteronomy 14:1-2. From the death-penalty mentioned above, Moses comes now to speak of mourning for the dead, so far as the confession to the Lord therein comes into view, as a confession with respect to man even, viz., as to his body, Deuteronomy 14:1-2. The reason is found in the filial relation of Israel, and more closely and objectively stated in this peculiar people. Comp. Exodus 4:22 (Numbers 11:12; Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 8:5; Deuteronomy 32:6; Deuteronomy 32:18). To this objective relation there must be a corresponding subjective conduct, since those consecrated to Jehovah would be profaned by a heathenish excess in mourning. Comp. upon Leviticus 19:28 (Deuteronomy 21:5).—Between your eyes, i.e. upon the forefront of the head, above the brow. The wound and disfiguration is thus the most external or obvious, but comprehends more truly the conformity to heathen customs, and still more the wild excess of grief for the dead, as over against God, who is and will be the living (Deuteronomy 5:23). Upon Deuteronomy 14:2 comp. Deuteronomy 7:6. [The order of thought is this: Idolatry must be checked and suppressed at whatever cost, chap. 13. The whole life of the people, also, was to be shaped and regulated by its relations to God; as to their mourning, Deuteronomy 14:1-2, as to their food, 3–21, and in their sacred meals, 22–29.—A. G.]

2.Deuteronomy 14:3-21. The same motives and reasoning avail with respect to food, Deuteronomy 14:3-21, as with respect to life; and Moses comes back to the joyful meals, chap. 12, in order to close up what he had to say in the exposition of the third command. What in this reference is an abomination to the Lord (Deuteronomy 7:25-26; Deuteronomy 12:31), and thus forbidden by Him; as it opposes His holiness, so also the confession of His name (Acts 10:14). While in Leviticus 11:3 we have the general rule as to what may be eaten among the land animals, here we have named 1) four-footed domestic animals, Deuteronomy 14:4, and wild animals, Deuteronomy 14:5, in reference to Canaan, then first, Deuteronomy 14:6, the general rule with perfect plainness. Of the two criteria of animals proper for food, the first, which is also the most detailed,—the cleaving of the hoof, since the cleft extends entirely through,-thus makes two hoofs,-and comes altogether outwardly into view, only to aid the other (and hence the absence of the ו conj.),—which is the more important. The arrangement of the ruminants, as it permits a more rapid assimilation of the food in the quiet of digestion, diffuses over them the paradise-peace of the tame animals, by so much the more as their food is only vegetable (Genesis 1:30). The divided hoof, with respect to the domestic animals, as thus clearly proper for food, is simply used as a mark.—Chewing [bringing up] the cud.—גֵרָה, from גָרַר גָרַח to cleave with the teeth, crush, i.e. ruminating (Leviticus 11:7 : chew that which is chewed, still over again), since the ruminants can by a four-fold stomach bring back again the swallowed food that they may masticate it. Deuteronomy 14:7. The camel has no thoroughly cloven hoof, but treads behind upon an undivided yielding ball. If the hare is intended, it is referred to because of the ruminating movement of the lips, as also the wahr or marmot. Comp. Leviticus 11:4 sq., where what is here said of the three, is said of each one separately. Linnæus classes the hare with the ruminants. [Upon the objection that Moses has here fallen into a mistake, since the hare does not ruminate, it is sufficient to say, that those who have watched the hare moving and working its jaw are led to speak of it as chewing the cud. Cowper speaks of one of his hares “as chewing the cud all day.” Although not strictly and scientifically a ruminant, it was popularly so. And Moses is not writing a scientific work upon the natural history of these animals, but simply giving to the people a ready index by which they could know what were to be eaten and what not. He grounds nothing upon the apparent rumination of the hare, but guards the people against grounding their conduct upon it. They may not eat of it, though it (apparently, popularly) cheweth the cud. There is no more solid ground for the objection here than there would be for an objection against the phrases which speak of the sun as rising and setting.—A. G.]

Deuteronomy 14:8. Swine form another exception, Leviticus 11:7-8. נְבֵלָה, the sinking away, fallen (cadaver). Deuteronomy 14:9-10. To the larger land-animals follow now 2) the water-animals. Similar to Leviticus 11:9 sq., but more briefly. The serpent appears to have fixed the rule, Genesis 3:0.

Deuteronomy 14:11. צִפּוֹרLev 11:13; הַעוֹף.

Deuteronomy 14:12 to Deuteronomy 18:3) The three times seven unclean birds. Comp. Leviticus 11:13 sq. Deuteronomy 14:13. הָרָאָה where Leviticus 11:14 has הַדָּאָה. The latter is either an error of the copyist for the former, or a synonym for it, or the first is an interpolation, as then the not exhaustive catalogue admitted of completions. דָאָה literally bird of prey, is moreover equivalent to דַיָּהIsa 34:15.

Deuteronomy 14:19. Lastly: 4) the small animals, (שֶרֶץ creeping things, reptiles), but as it is connected with the birds, more fully Leviticus 11:20 sq., where four kinds of locusts were permitted, but which in reference to Canaan do not come into view here. Deuteronomy 14:20 is therefore more comprehensive than Deuteronomy 14:11, silently including the permitted locusts. [As to the distinction between clean and unclean animals, its historical basis and growth, the grounds on which it rests, the ends it was designed to serve, and how far it is now done away, abrogated since Christ—the great sacrifice—died, see Smith’sBib. Dic.: Bib. Com., Leviticus 11:0, and this Comm. on the same passage. As to the differences between the enumeration there and here, they are to be accounted for by the change in the circumstances of the people—they not needing now such full instruction as to the whole class of reptiles as then; by the special objects which Moses had in view in Deuteronomy; and upon the fact that the variations are only apparent, the omitted animals being included in the general classes in both narratives.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 14:21 is to be applied naturally to animals proper for food. Comp. Deuteronomy 14:8. נבלה is indeed not the same as מרפה (Exodus 22:30); but according to Leviticus 17:15 (11:39 sq.), the eating of the one as of the other, defiles on account of the blood, and even to the stranger. There is here a concession to the enlarged relations in Canaan, while moreover the prohibition for Israel is made still more manifest. For thou art an holy people. The stranger as is suited to the march in the wilderness is thought of in Leviticus, as in closer relations to Israel than in Deuteronomy, and thus the defilement only until the evening was spoken of with reference to both. Here, on the contrary, there is a separation between the two, for Israel a simple prohibition, and for the stranger a general permission. Through the giving (Exodus 22:30; Revelation 22:15) and selling to the stranger of what was forbidden to Israel, Israel was profited. There is in the case a confession and judgment as to the stranger in question, out of which was developed afterward the distinction between גר צדק, and the גר תושב. Thus here also גר is connected with נָכְדִי (the disowned, rejected, the other absolute stranger).—גדי is generally the young (the expelled) especially the young kid. Comp. upon Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26. The direction is here connected with the command and prohibition as to animal food, through which the milk of the mother, as the natural food of the young, appears “to a certain extent of one grade with the blood of the animal,” thus indicating a tender regard for life, however much the killing and eating of the young kid was relished. Jehovah the living God! that Israel must never forget. To seethe, sq., would barbarously sacrifice that regard for life to the dainty lickerish taste. The general preparation with milk was not forbidden. Comp. further Deuteronomy 22:6 sq.

3.Deuteronomy 14:22-29. There is here a closing return to Deuteronomy 12:6, and indeed in reference to the tithe. For the more detailed statement of the case, see Intro., § 4, I. 19. Comp. moreover Leviticus 27:30 sq; Numbers 18:0. The tithing generally, is an acknowledgment of Jehovah as the proprietor, but especially here in Deuteronomy 14:23. Comp. Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 4:10, and other passages. Comp. also upon Deuteronomy 15:19 sq. Deuteronomy 14:24. A reference to the altered circumstances in Canaan, as in Deuteronomy 12:21.Deuteronomy 14:25. Into money (silver) to give instead of these vegetable tithes in kind. But that this should appear as clearly as possible as a tithe-gift, it was more definitely added, that they should take the money bound up in the hand when they came to the place of the sanctuary. There, Deuteronomy 14:26, it was to be expended for the purpose of this tithe, to wit, the joyful sacred meal, to which both flesh and wine, etc., belonged. [It is scarcely possible to confound this tithe with that to the Levites, Leviticus 27:31; Numbers 18:27. Two-tenths were to be taken—one for the Levites, and one reserved for the uses of the person who gave the tithe—as directed here and in the 12th chap. It is a question whether this second tithe was a full tenth, or only a tenth of the portion left after the Levitical tithe had been levied. The more obvious construction implies that there were two full tenths.—A. G.]. שֵׁכָר intoxicating drink, must, palm wine. Comp. also Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 12:20. [The distinction here is not between two kinds of wine, one intoxicating and the other not, but between wine and a drink made from some other substance than the grape; from honey or barley. Gesenius: Or perhaps dates. In Numbers 28:7 it seems to be used as synonymous with wine, or at least as including it.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 14:27. As Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:19. Herxheimer: “When thou separatedst this second tithe, withhold not the first tithe to the Levite, this thou mayest give to no other than the Levite dwelling with thee.” Deuteronomy 14:28. At the end, sq., i.e., in the passing of each third year, and indeed after the harvest of the third year; twice in each seven years. Comp. Deuteronomy 15:1. Thou shalt bring forth from the storehouses, granaries. All, viz., all the second tithe of this year (Deuteronomy 14:22)—called by the Jewish authorities “the third tithe” (a poor tithe)—but should not, neither in kind nor in money, come to the place of the sanctuary. Comp. Deuteronomy 26:12 sq.


1. As the mourning, with whose prohibition the chapter begins, has a symbolical nature, in accordance with the well-known character of the East, and of antiquity generally, so the command and prohibition as to food belongs to the ceremonial law, and shares the same symbolical character. At first the prohibition, Deuteronomy 14:3. Jehovah thus defines what in regard to flesh-food would not accord with the confession of His name. There is therefore in the Rabbinic notion of a “kingly, authoritative command,” as to whose grounds we need not refine and strive, more theology than in many attempted explanations of the clean and unclean. The sanitarian theory (Grotius, Michaelis [Spencer,—A. G.]), although only in respect to the bodily life, could be conceived and framed theologically from the idea of God as the living one; still further upon an old back-reaching (upon Leviticus 11:44) emphasizing of the significance of animal food generally, especially of unclean animals, with respect to the soul-life of man. The notion of “an animal clean and unclean, physiologico-psychical disposition” (Lange, Delitzsch), comes too near a creative dualism, and in its particular features is not susceptible of proof. But the founding of the distinction (Keil Archæ, II. 20) “upon a certain instinctive feeling, to view many animals as types of sin and corruption, which thus fill us with aversion and horror” is too subjective. That the separation of the O. T. people of God from the idolatrous world, comes out in the food statutes of Israel, appears from the scorn of the heathen, who ate for the most part precisely those animals forbidden to Israel. It is undeniable also that with such divine limitations as to what should be eaten and what not, life, even down to its material foundations, carries with it a thorough and prevailing reminding of Jehovah. The idea physically fixed in the Israelitish food laws, was the religious and moral idea of the living God, of Jehovah as the Holy One, to which only the pure or the purified agree. Whatever is an abomination to Jehovah (תועבה, Deuteronomy 14:3) must be an unclean, defiled thing to Israel (שקץ), it defiles the people of the Lord (Leviticus 11:0); it should be unclean to them (Deuteronomy 14:7-8; Deuteronomy 14:10). Thus the ceremonial law generally, and the food law especially, promoted the knowledge of sin, and of death, which has entered the creation of God through sin.

2. In Leviticus 11:0, and in this renewal in Deuteronomy, we have the familiar division of animals into four classes, and in the same order of succession. But (comp. Exeget. and Crit.) although the Deuteronomic statement is based upon that in Lev.; where they coincide, it is more condensed, what is there detailed is here omitted, the same freedom rules it with respect to the number and arrangement of the unclean birds, as earlier in the particular enumeration of the larger clean land animals. It is evident that the latter lies as entirely in the circumstances in Canaan, to which Deuteronomy bears constant reference, while e.g. the detailed description, Leviticus 11:9 sq. (Deut. simply בַמָּיִם) to the desert. (A similar contrast, Deuteronomy 8:7 sq.). The omission of locusts, still used as food in the wilderness (Matthew 3:4) is justified fully by the repeated attestations in Deut. of the abundance in Canaan. The prevalence of the sacred symbolic numbers as to the formal element of the chapter, is worthy of notice: thus ten clean land animals, three into seven unclean birds.

3. The food usages of Israel symbolized the religious destination of the people, in opposition to sin and death; as the consecration to the holy and living Jehovah is formulated to a confession in the food of Israel, it should also rule throughout the life sustained by the food, and thus essentially as it is in the New Testament. Colossians 3:17, (1 Corinthians 10:31). Comp. John 17:19. The opposition to sin and death, in which the food-law moves, leads as was remarked in the exegesis—and by a more full and accurate consideration of particulars the retrospect may be much more clearly seen—back to the original creation, in which there was neither sin nor death. With this also agrees especially the prohibition with respect to the kid, and generally the prohibition as to the fallen, both of the clean and unclean, reaching as far as the touch even, and silent as to the eating; for upon the נבלה death has done its work (Leviticus 11:29 : וכי יּמוּת) it is not slain according to the Divine permission, Genesis 9:0. Here belongs also in reference to the unclean birds, and so much the more since there is no characteristic of the clean given, the prominent idea, that they are birds of prey, carnivorous, devouring alive the smaller animals. On the other hand the greater land animals, since the giving of flesh for food, the defined four-footed animals with their significant marks, although they perhaps do not conceal or hide the dissension, the breach, running through the good creation of God through sin (?) do yet in any case, with their vegetable food, to which they hold fast agreeably to their origin, offer the most natural, as at the same time the most obvious, rule of the clean. [For what is supposed to be the spiritual meaning of these marks—the cloven hoof, and the chewing the cud—see Wordsworth: here and on Leviticus 11:0, who is learned and rich in all the patristic literature.—A. G.].


Deuteronomy 14:1. Against excessive mourning: it is childish, not childlike; heathenish, not holy. The true measure in our mourning for the dead, not borrowed from the heathen, who have no hope, 1 Thessalonians 4:13, and are out of communion with God. (Upon anniversaries for the dead). Baumgarten: “The inward communion of Israel with Jehovah should be such that death should have no power over it, so that Israel, in the midst of the dominion of death, should not suffer the disfiguring signs of death, by which the heathen represent themselves as a prey to the power of death (Hebrews 2:15) though in the midst of life, to come upon his body. But the divine sonship of the individual rests upon the divine sonship of the entire Israel, just as the divine sonship of Christ is the ground out of which believers receive power to become the sons of God.” Where the sonship of God is, there is the inheritance, the promise of eternal life.

Deuteronomy 14:2. Piscator: “A beautiful description of the Christian Church.” Berl. Bib.: “Whoever will be holy for God, must be a child, must be as God will have him. Luke 18:16 sq.” Deuteronomy 14:3. Starke: “He alone is a true Israelite who guards himself from the impurities of sin, Matthew 15:17 sq.” Wurt. Bib.: “Pure things become impure to men through the prohibition of the divine word.” Osiander: “We should not bring the shadows of the O. T. into the free Church of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:25.” Deuteronomy 14:5. What was clean to eat was not therefore clean for sacrifice; since the pure brings himself a sacrifice, all is pure for food. Romans 14:14; Colossians 2:14; Colossians 2:16 sq.; 1 Timothy 4:4; Genesis 9:3.

Deuteronomy 14:21. Luther: i.e., “Let the dead bury their dead.” Piscator: “It is demanded from a Christian that he should not be defiled with dead——works.” Deuteronomy 14:26. Schultz: “Though a man has great reason to be sad in himself, let him rejoice so much the more in the Lord, and through his rejoicing actually praise His kindness. Psalms 23:5.” Deuteronomy 14:28. Tub. Bib.: “We should cheerfully set aside from our possessions for the poor, and that according to our ability.” Deuteronomy 14:29. Richter: “Christ reminds us of these love-feasts. Luke 14:13 sq. The blessing will not fail. 2 Corinthians 9:6 sq.” Starke: “There is no better means to secure the blessing of God and be rich, than generosity and benevolence to the servants of the Church, the stranger, the poor, the widow and the fatherless, and all for the sake of religion. Proverbs 19:17.”


[1][Deuteronomy 14:5. Ges.: The roe-antelope, referring to the whole species, and so called from its gracefulness and beauty.—A. G.]

[2][Deuteronomy 14:5. These terms are descriptive of different kinds of antelopes, named from the physical qualities, as swiftness, leaping or color. The chamois denoting most probably some mountain sheep.—A. G.]

[3][Deuteronomy 14:13. Glede, common kite, from its keenness of sight. Perhaps we should read דָאָה, vulture, for רָאָה, Leviticus 11:14.—A. G.]

[4][Deuteronomy 14:13. Kite and vulture. The distinction seems to be that between the red and black kite. See Smith’s Bib. Dict., which is full and satisfactory upon all these terms.—A. G.]

[5][Deuteronomy 14:15. Probably the ostrich.]

[6][Deuteronomy 14:15. Cuckoo, a species of petrel.]

[7][Deuteronomy 14:16. More correctly the ibis.]

[8][Deuteronomy 14:22. Tithing, thou shalt tithe.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/deuteronomy-14.html. 1857-84.
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